What World Football Could Learn From 2010 Ryder Cup
Like many sports fans, I sat and watched the Ryder Cup this year from start to finish and loved every single minute.
Not just because I am a big golf fan, but because it was played in such a way that it was impossible not to appreciate everything about it.
It was a refreshing change from what we see week in, week out from the Premier League.
Don't get me wrong, I am and always will be a huge football fan and will watch games at any given opportunity, but there are certainly aspects of the Ryder Cup I would like to see come into the game.
In this article, I take a look at the five main things that football could learn from golf's flagship event.
Dealing With Adversity
You might have noticed that this year’s contest was severely delayed by adverse weather conditions.
There were even genuine fears that the tournament would not be completed, even by the end of Monday’s play.
However, on Friday afternoon after several hours of delays, the Ryder Cup Europe organisers held a quick meeting and discussed options to nullify the impact of the delays and allow the fans to still see plenty of golf.
Within the hour, they had come to a decision which involved altering the format slightly, playing six foursomes in one go, before playing the remaining two alongside Sunday’s fourball matches.
Not only was this an excellent alteration, it also showed just how flexible the organisers were willing to be to best satisfy everyone, even in a game with such traditional values.
It was swift and effective. It didn’t require a massive panel meeting lasting hours, which would then have to be decided by a panel of "experts" before an official ruling was given.
The closest example I’ve ever seen in football to altering a schedule is because Sky asked them to, or because a bit of crowd trouble has delayed the kickoff.
Now here is a novel idea. Let’s put the fans first for once!
The 2010 Ryder Cup will always be remembered for being the first to be so badly disrupted by rain, that it was forced into major delays and a fourth day of competition, not to mention the altered format.
In all this fracas, it would have been easy to just concentrate on sorting out a way to get the players on the course for enough time to reach a reasonable score.
They could have cut the match down in the same way that they might reduce a four-round tournament to three rounds after weather delays, but they didn’t.
Throughout the weekend, even with all the hoopla going on, the most important thing for organisers was to make sure the fans were treated properly.
They wanted to make sure that all 28 matches were completed to give the customers what they paid for.
Some might argue that changing the format made it more watchable, with all the players on the course at all times.
Then there were the press conferences and the interviews with the captains and the players. Almost every single time without fail, there was a mention of the crowd, how great they were and how important it was to make sure they saw plenty of good golf.
It was a refreshing change from the world of football where priority No. 1 is the overpaid footballing prima donnas.
Not only that, Ryder Cup Europe have since announced that any spectator who had tickets for Friday’s golf, which was minimal due to heavy rain, is going to be compensated.
All Friday ticket holders are set to receive a complementary DVD of the contest as well as two complementary day tickets to a selection of European Tour events between now and the end of July.
Alternatively, if you go to a football match and the floodlights cut out, you can redeem your ticket for the replayed match, but if you can’t make it? Tough cookies.
Perhaps one of the best things about the Ryder Cup is the way the thousands of spectators conduct themselves throughout the weekend.
This is a very unique event in golf, especially from the point of view of the crowds.
In 99 percent of golf tournaments, the crowd will be completely mixed in who they are rooting for.
Some will be behind Tiger Woods, some behind Phil Mickelson, others backing Lee Westwood or Ian Poulter or Big John Daly.
However in most cases, spectators will be rooting for a group of players while others will back everyone as long as they’re seeing good golf.
The Ryder Cup is different. The vast majority of the crowd are supporting the home team, while the remainder will be the traveling fans.
It’s us vs. them, creating an almost football-like atmosphere.
This was evident from the excessive cheering and football-style crowd songs.
Despite all that though, the crowds showed the utmost respect to every single player and shot.
Even with constant chants and banter coming from the fans, they still knew where to stand, when to keep quiet and how to behave.
The fact that Monty and Corey paid tribute to the fans at every opportunity was testament to this.
The 2010 Ryder Cup was a fantastic example of sportsmanship and the respect that professional golfers have for their peers.
As always—apart from a minor blip in 1999—the Ryder Cup was played in a fantastic and respectful spirit that makes the event truly unique.
The most telling example of this was immediately after the closing ceremony. This is the time when you would expect the winning European team to head to a big party and get well and truly sloshed. It is also the time you would expect the losing American team to skulk off to their team room, pack their bags and start thinking about the trip home.
This was not the case.
Within minutes of returning to the team room, there was a knock on the European door. It was Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods. The pair, who don’t always see eye to eye, had taken it upon themselves to congratulate the Europeans, before sharing a drink and taking on all comers at the table tennis table.
The American team then joined the Europeans for the party and celebrated with them through the night.
Could you imagine this happening in football?
Do you think following the 2008 Champions League Final, the Chelsea players joined Rio Ferdinand and Cp. to help them celebrate their penalty shootout victory?
I think not.
Pride and Passion Representing a Nation
This might be a bit of a controversial choice but after watching the recent England game, it feels like the right choice.
Also, Europe is technically a continent, not a nation, but it's the same principle.
These days it seems like playing for your country in football is not as big a deal as it used to be. I know the players say that they are passionate about playing for England, but judging by Tuesday night's performance against Montenegro, they really aren't.
Could it be because they aren't paid to play for England? Maybe.
On the other hand, the 24 men representing Europe and America at the Ryder Cup a fortnight ago were playing unpaid and picking up sponsorship from their golf clubs only (everything else was generic team attire). Yet all weekend they were fist pumping, hooping and hollering, and getting the crowds going.
You saw the elation in Graeme McDowell when he dropped that putt on the 16th to put Europe within touching distance of the golden Ryder Cup Trophy.
There was a passion and companionship that seems to be deteriorating in the modern football game. Players playing for each other and the fans rather than for themselves.
It was refreshing to see and brought back memories of the good old days of sport. Who knows, maybe football can get back there, but not with the obscene wages being banded around.